Last week, we blogged about a resolution which was being sponsored by Louisville Metro Council members Engle, Kramer, and Parker. The resolution would give the blessing of our local Metro Government to a bill being discussed in Legislative bodies in Frankfort this session. HB103 would place medically unnecessary requirements on medical professionals and their patients.
Before I share the letter I penned to Louisville Metro Council members opposing the resolution and HB103, I want to highlight another bill that has been filed in Frankfort this session. If it sounds off the wall to you, consider why Rep Marzian would file this bill:
AN ACT relating to medical and nursing schools.
Create a new section of KRS Chapter 164 to require all medical and nursing schools established and assisted financially by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to cease all training of any health care providers and the provision of any health care services; require all medical and nursing schools to refer citizens who are requesting advice or health care services to their state representative or state senator.
Here is my response to the resolution supporting HB103, which for now has been taken off the Government Oversight Committee’s calendar. This letter was intended for each Metro Council Person to be delivered prior to the committee hearing.
Dear Louisville Metro Council Person;
I write as a resident of District 6, a voter, and a passionate advocate for freedom and bodily autonomy.
I write to express my deep concern for the resolution sponsored by representatives from districts 22, 11, and 18, which aimed to endorse House Bill 103, placing additional requirements on patients seeking reproductive care, and the medical staff providing them that care.
In 2017, the Kentucky Legislature passed a similar law, known as the “Narrated Ultrasound Law” which required medical staff to verbally describe an ultrasound image to a patient, prior to terminating a pregnancy. This was one of several efforts by the state to restrict access to legal care while shaming individuals and families. While ultrasounds are commonly performed to determine size and location of a pregnancy, these laws place medically unnecessary punishments in the path of patients, and licensed medical professionals.
Since the passage of the 2017 law, a federal district court has found that law to be unconstitutional. Despite that, our legislature seems determined to leverage their power – at the expense of taxpayers – to continue restricting access to abortion care, and bodily autonomy. In addition to appealing the ruling mentioned above, lawmakers are also attempting to pass HB103 which closely resembles that unconstitutional law. HB103 is only different in that instead of requiring the provider to verbally describe the ultrasound image to the patient (while granting permission for them to close or avert their eyes or cover their ears – which is demeaning, insulting, and patronizing at best), this equally unconstitutional bill requires the patient be given a written description of the ultrasound.
To me, this requirement is eerily similar to behaviors seen on the sidewalk outside of clinics nationwide. In Louisville extremists force their opinions, literature, and physical bodies at individuals seeking care, without their consent. One way that HB103’s attempt at reproductive coercion mirrors the action of dangerous extremists is a complete disregard for whether or not the information being forced on patients is thought to be helpful, or desired by those individuals.
HB103 and similar laws require providers to deliver unnecessary information to their patients, even if they verbally decline. On the sidewalk outside of EMW in Louisville, individuals are forced to endure verbal (sometimes amplified) harassment, physical threats and assault, plus gruesome inaccurate images despite clear requests to be left alone. Considering what patients go through just to get to the clinic, the idea of legislative bodies forcing medical staff to perform unnecessary and undesired actions on their patients is deeply troubling.
In 1973 the US Supreme Court clearly ruled that decisions about one’s reproductive care are to be made by a patient with support from their care providers. Since then, states have erected restrictions designed to make access as challenging as possible. I find this unacceptable, and for Metro Council to be hesitant to put public safety measures in place outside our Commonwealth’s only clinic, while simultaneously endorsing additional restrictions on access is beyond disappointing.
Attached please find the results of a recent study by the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH), which examined and scored 40 cities based on 37 indicators in the areas of reproductive health, rights, and justice. Our “Compassionate City” scored 1.5 out of 5 stars, not just due to barriers to abortion access, but also for lacking in areas such as protections for pregnant people, and working parents. I believe Metro Government could do a lot to improve our score in this well researched study. I know that passing a resolution in support of further punishing people seeking reproductive care is not moving in the right direction. When NIRH released their findings last Fall, they kindly created a Model City blueprint to highlight the ways in which truly compassionate cities can step up and take care of their citizens. Please take a look at the Model City profile and think critically about what kind of city we are creating for current and future residents, and how we might improve the expereinces of those individuals and families who call Louisville home.
Resident of D6